Posts Tagged With: Peter

In This Name

Word of the Day: Acts 4:1-6:15
“In this name” Acts 5:28

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I admit that much of today’s reading felt like a haze. But through that haze a pattern began to emerge. A name.

The Sadducees were “greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Acts 4:2

“let it be known to all of you and all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead by him this man is standing before you well.” Acts 4:10

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Acts 4:11

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

“But in order that it may spread no farther among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” Acts 4:17

I could go on and on, but just by this short passage it is evident that there is tremendous power in the name of Jesus of Nazareth! Power that filled the Sadducees with jealous fear and the disciples with power and boldness through His Holy Spirit. There is power in the name of Jesus because it speaks of the person of Jesus, in whom all power resides. When we have Jesus, we have everything we need. He is the cornerstone the builders rejected. Will you reject him today? Will I? I almost did. But “if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, nothing will be able to overthrow it.” Acts 5:38-39
As unfaithful as I have already fully proven myself to be, God still won’t let me fail. You know why? Because of you. Because He cares about you. And it’s my job to remind (myself and) you every day how much He loves you. He loves you enough to send you power and strength through a simple name – JESUS! A name that saves to the fullest and most extreme extent. A name above all names. A name that means everything to me because He gave everything for me while I was yet a sinner. Although I sinned and fell oh so short of the glory of God, He justified me by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation for my sins and yours! (Romans 3:23-25)
Hallelujah! We are justified through Grace!

Thank you Jesus!

Categories: 365 Life, Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Impossible

Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father, open my eyes so that I may see You clearly. Open my ears so that I may hear You soundly. Open my mind so that I may understand You more. Open my heart so that I may love You fully. Open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly, in Jesus name, Amen.

Todays reading: Acts 11:19-14:7

And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peters voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. Acts 12:13-14

So, you know how yesterday I was talking about my personality and how when I get my sights set on something I just bulldoze through things to make sure that I get accomplished what I have set in my sights to accomplish? Yeah, I no more than finished writing about that, and then I did it! It was a good thing, but still, its just who I am. Yesterday I was Rhoda, my Lord knocked on the door of my heart with an idea for a new photography branch for my ministry and I was so excited about it that I forgot to open the door and let Him in!!!

I have always loved photography, especially landscapes. I took photography in 4H when I was younger and that was pretty much the extent of my experience until my husband and I moved to the Chicago-land area so that he could go back to school. We just arent city people. Both of us were raised in the country, we love large fields blowing in the breeze and quiet dirt roads. When we moved to the big city I missed the wild-life and the flowers, but mostly I missed the large trees. All my life Ive loved Gods creation, but during that time in my life when I was so surrounded with cement, metal and glass I really found out just how much I love nature. And thats when I picked up my camera and started taking pictures of God. I had to search for Him in that place, not that the people I worked with werent great, because they were, but because the natural creation that was made with Gods hands alone was so scarce. I longed for the openness of home and was amazed at how, through the lens of a camera, I could catch glimpses of home through nature. I photographed flowers, the few I could find, mulch, shapes in the cement, wooden table tops, but mostly I photographed the sky!

The sky was the one thing that even in such a foreign place; it was the same there as it was at home. The clouds were puffy and white just like at home. Or it would be dark and looming just like at home before a rain storm. The wind blew them the same and the sun streamed through them down onto me the same as at home too. I found so much comfort and solace in staring at the sky during that time. That was a very dark time in my life; I was putting my husband through school by working as a daycare teacher. At the same time we discovered that I had a thyroid problem and figuring out what dosage my medication should be was proving extraordinarily difficult. I was absolutely exhausted ALL the time, so much so that I could barely walk up the three flights of stairs to our apartment at the end of the night. Id get to the top and I could barely breathe and could see stars. Because my husband was working and going to school I really never got to see him, so our relationship became more of a living arrangement than a marriage. We didnt live through that situation, we survived it. And we brought a lot of scars home with us when his schooling was over too.

Through that dark time there were two things that brought me great joy, photographing nature and music. At the time I was working in a church daycare and one day several men (a rarity in a day care) came downstairs to the classrooms where I worked. They went into one of the empty classrooms and came out with an old battered piano. Curious beyond measure I asked them what on earth they were doing and they replied Pastor asked us to carry it out to the dumpster. I almost cried at the thought of an almost perfectly good piano getting thrown in the trash! I had always wanted a piano of my own and here was one they were going the throw away! I asked them to give me ten minutes, and they happily agreed. Go figure, it was a piano after all; they werent looking forward to carrying it up the stairs to remove it from the building! I literally raced up to the pastors office to throw myself at his mercy and ask him to allow the neglected piano to stay in my room. I knew I didnt have space in our apartment for a piano, but I had PLENTY of space in my giant classroom, which was almost the same size as my apartment! Plus with the addition of a piano I would be able to play songs for my kids to sing along to! How cool would that be??? (I was overestimating my abilities as a piano player at the time, but I was excited and really didnt care that much about the kids at the moment, God was doing this for me!) Although the pastor was a little disappointed that he wasnt getting rid of this old piano today, he was happy to see my enthusiasm about it and simply couldnt refuse my passionate request. I practically skipped back down the stairs to tell the men that they got to deliver it to my classroom instead of having to carry it up the stairs and outside. I think they were about as excited as I was! In the days to come I spent an hour every day playing that piano after work. I was finding music online and printing it off at home, then bringing it to work and practicing on the piano after the kids left at night. During that one quiet hour of my day, I didnt pray with my mouth or even in my head, but Im pretty sure I was praying with my fingers. The music penetrated my soul; it calmed me and soothed away the stress. I was by no means a good pianist, but it wasnt the success of my fingers that brought me peace, it was being alone with God. It was taking the time for myself, in that period when I was living everyone else. Photography and Piano were the only things that I did for me. They were what brought me joy and peace, and when I didnt do them, I was agitated and frustrated.

Since then its always bothered me that I havent done much with the pictures I took during that time. For the most part theyre just hanging out on my computer. There are three that have successfully made it from my computer into my life. One I turned into a postcard for friends going through a rough time, it has Jeremiah 29:11 on it. Another I turned into a poster that has the worry section from Matthew, it hangs above our bed as a constant reminder to me that if God clothes the lilies of the valley with more splendor than Solomon then how much more will He provide clothes for me? And He has! The third photo is the photo that was at the end of yesterdays blog, For nothing is impossible with God. When God first gave me the itch to write and planted that dream in my heart of becoming a missionary mom He had me pull that photo off my computer and onto the wall right in front of me while I sit at my desk and work. Constantly reminding me to resist the doubt that the Enemy throws into my life to try and convince me that something isnt possible for me or our ministry. A while back we got some new-to-us furniture and rearranged our library where I was working, in the move that picture got taken down and lost. And ya know, Ive felt the difference! During that time I struggled to fight the Enemys attacks against me, I lost a lot of hope that our ministry would ever take off. I was forgetting to remember that NOTHING is impossible with God!

In todays reading, Herod had just killed one of the apostles and taken Peter captive in order to kill him as well. Peter was in what most of us would consider a fairly impossible situation. But not for God! God had Peters brothers and sisters in Christ praying earnestly for him. And I have to point out that Jesus Himself had also let Peter in on a secret, that he would live to a ripe old age where others would have to dress him and take him places he didnt want to go, remember John 21:15-19. So we, as the readers know that Peters gonna get out of this no-win situation, but HOW is the real question. I love how Acts 12:5 starts to tell us about the situation that Peter was in: So Peter was kept in prison, BUT earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. I just love those buts in scripture! You know, where theres this really hopeless situation and then it gets followed with a BUT GOD. There was Peter, not just in a prison cell alone in the middle of the night, but he was guarded by FOUR squads of soldiers, he was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. Now, thats what I call an impossible situation! There was honestly no human way to escape. Peter could never have done it alone, and even if his friends had attempted a prison break, they most likely wouldnt have been successful.

BUT GOD!

His friends knew the real way to get him saved from this life and death circumstance, prayer! Appeal to the only force that has the power to help us out of impossible situations. Just like Mary we may be looking at the things God has told us and at our situations and thinking How can this be since I am a virgin? And thats when God answers us Ahhh, but my Beloved, NOTHING is impossible for Me! Trust Me, I can handle this. Which leaves us with only one response Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to YOUR WORD. (Luke 1:34-38)

When we surrender our impossible situations over to the Lord, He makes them possible! Peters friends prayed, and while the scripture isnt specific about the fact that God heard their prayers, its evident in the manner in which the information is shared with us. The simple evidence that their prayers are mentioned tells us that God heard them. God hears our prayers, all of them, all of the time. God hears them, and He sends the help that we need. Keeping in mind that it might not take the form that we want or expect, but He always answers our prayers with what we need. And what Peter needed was a miracle! God sent the help that he needed to get out of that impossible situation in the form of an angel.

One of my favorite verses in this story is verse seven: And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, Get up quickly. And the chains fell off his hands. There was no toil involved, no searching for the keys, or be quiet, dont wake the guards, just a smack to the side to wake him up and then an abrupt Get up! Quick! and the chains that bound him to this impossible situation just fell off! They just fell off!!! My friends, prayer does that, it makes the chains binding us to our own impossible situations simply fall off, in Jesus name! Hallelujah! What is impossible for man is possible for God! No, its not just possible for God, its EASY for God, because, well, He is GOD.


Categories: Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , ,

Rise

Come Holy Spirit, fill me with Your fire so that I can be more like You; help me, I trust You. Father, open my eyes so that I may see You clearly. Open my ears so that I may hear You soundly. Open my mind so that I may understand You plainly. Open my heart so that I may love You more. Open my hands so that I may give generously and receive humbly. In Jesus name, Amen.

Todays reading is: Acts 9:1-11:18

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Acts 9:6-7

I started Live Boldly with the words Being with Jesus, well, it changes you. And truer words could not be spoken over todays passage! Saul was a religious zealot. He was obsessed with stopping these people, who were calling themselves the Way, from speaking blasphemous things. And by the looks of it he was willing to go to about any lengths to stop them, including murder. But, its impossible to have a personal encounter with Jesus and not be changed from the experience. Saul was just walking down the road, minding his own business, when BOOM! Jesus stops him in his tracks and the sudden appearance of the glory of God knocks Saul to the ground, as it should. Saul was so overwhelmed from his experience with Jesus that he was blind for three days! While Peter accepted Jesus messiah-ship immediately, Saul took a while. Im sure some of us can relate to this!

Personally, Ive accepted Jesus role in my life as Savior immediately and easily; but His role in my life as Lord (or leader) has been much more difficult for me. I dont know if I was a strong-willed child when I was younger, but I certainly am now, just ask my husband! When I get something locked into my sights, I go for it, and I dont stop until I get it. When we took the Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage seminar by Mark Gungor we took a great personality quiz called the Flag Page. The symbol for my secondary personality was a bulldozer; that describes me to a T! I am unable to leave things alone. If Im in the middle of a project, its next to impossible for me to leave it unfinished before I move on to something else. I get very stuck holding on to an idea or a thing just because its what came along first. When I first started writing my husband and I wrote a book about Godly sexual intimacy in marriage (True Intimacy). And for the longest time I thought that we would be doing ministry work together and it would be all about marriage and sex. It took two years for God to wrangle that concept out of my grasp and get me to open up to the idea that maybe God had an even wider scope for our ministry. I was so focused on what I thought His plan was for us that I couldnt see His actual plan. I thought I knew what it was and I was pushing everything else aside. On top of that, because I knew that He has called me to be a writer for Him I had this concept of being a published author“, you know, someone with books in print. I have held on to that dream and image of myself for three years. But as the director of the local library told me You have to get into the modern era! E-books! Its taken me three years to give that one up to God too. But I think Ive actually gotten to that point… I hope so anyway. God helped me with that the other day by making sure that I heard on the radio that Encyclopedia Britannica is no longer printing their books anymore, theyre going totally digital. That made me feel so much better!

You see, GOD knows the plans that He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and those plans may not look like the plans we have for ourselves. And they might not look like the plans that we even think that God has for us. But I can guarantee that His plans are WAY better than our plans, because unlike us, He can see the whole picture. He can see the whole plan from In the beginning to the Amen. Hes helped me realize that my dream of having printed books was severely limiting my own creativity. You cant put links to other websites, songs, other bible verses, pictures etc into a printed book. You generally cant put color text or color pictures in the interior of a printed book either. But with a blog/website the sky is the limit, with the internet there are no rules, no trade standards and no denominational guidelines to follow. I can write precisely what He leads me to write and I dont have to worry about someone telling me that Im not allowed to post that. Sure that opens me up to plenty of criticism from every side, but thats just part of ministry. Someone will always tell you that youre doing something wrong. (Like Saul.) But were not supposed to be following the direction of the people around us, were supposed to be following the directions of the Holy Spirit. And when we do that, we are truly living according to the Spirit!

When I was reading this morning there was a word that caught my attention. It caught my attention because it kept coming up, over and over and over again in the reading. It first appeared when Jesus spoke to Saul on the road, rise and enter the city…, and then Saul rose from the ground. I was so taken by the repetition of these two words that I actually took the time to go back through and count them, fourteen in all! In these three short chapters the words rise and rose appeared fourteen times in the ESV translation. Now Im a big believer in the idea that if God says something once you listen. But, like I said, sometimes Im a little hard of hearing. Thankfully God is patient! He knows that usually He has to tell me things over and over again before I will hear them let alone listen. By the end of the reading I was starting to get the picture, but Im a digger, I love to dig deeply into the fertile soil of the Word and see what treasures I can find. Each and every word in scripture is important and can hold a treasure within it. There is this wonderful site www.biblos.com in it there is a WEALTH of knowledge and the tools to discover it on your own as well! My favorite tool on this site is the lexicon, where you can look up any verse in the bible and click on the word that you want to learn more about and it will tell you the original Greek or Hebrew word and what they mean. It is amazing to me how the Holy Spirit has used this tool in my life. Knowing all the possible translations of a word gives that word so much more depth and meaning within the verse, which then gives the verse itself more depth and meaning as well.

Of course, Im telling you all this to tell you about the word rise that Jesus speaks to Saul on the road. In Greek the word rise is pronounced anistaymee and according to biblos.com means: I raise up, set up; I rise from among (the) dead; I arise, appear. Did you catch that my friend? It means to rise from among the dead!!! Up to that point in his life Saul was DEAD. His body was animate, but his soul was dead… until he came face to face with Christ. It was from that moment on that he was truly alive. When Jesus said rise he was commanding Sauls soul to LIVE.

While I held on firmly to my own plans for my writing and ministry they were dead. But the moment I encountered His glory and released my plans to the grave, thats when God was able to breathe life into them. My plans hindered Gods plans, and who am I that I could stand in Gods way? (Acts 11:17) Do you have any idea how many times I questioned if God was really blessing my ministry? I dont know for sure, but it was a lot! And it wasnt because He wasnt blessing my ministry either, because He was in huge ways, it just wasnt in the one way that I wanted Him to bless me. The ways in which He was blessing my ministry didnt line up with my plans, so therefore they werent blessings in my mind. Thankfully, I couldnt stand in Gods way. Oh, let me say that again! You cant stand in Gods way. Period. Who are you to think that you can? Hes GOD. And, Im sorry, but anyone who says otherwise is underestimating who God is.

He is God ALL-mighty,

He is ALL-powerful,

He is ALL-knowing,

He is Yehovah God, the maker of the heavens and the earth.

WE were made by Him from the dust of that earth. We are worms compared to Him. And yet, not only does He love wormy-little-ole-us, but He tells us His plans for us in Isaiah 41:14-16 to

Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the one who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

We may be mere worms, and we are, HOWEVER nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). While we are fragile and weak worms unable to defend ourselves in any way, He is the one who helps us. He is the one who has redeemed us and made us so much more than worms! A threshing sledge, NEW and SHARP, not only are we alive and made new in Christ, we are also made powerful and strong. With the baptism and indwelling of the Holy Spirit comes the power to turn impossible into possible, weak into strong. Jesus told Saul to rise because he was on the ground; he was a dead worm in the dirt. But because Jesus had plans for Saul, just like He has plans for each and every one of us. He told him to rise and go into the city where He would instruct him further at the proper time. And until that time those instructions would have to be sufficient for Saul. So Saul rose from the ground. He got up! He came to life for the first in his life. No longer a weak worm, but a tool used for harvesting!

Oh rise up my friend! Have you been like me? Clinging to plans that are getting you nowhere fast? Give those plans a fast burial! Cast them aside and empty your hands so that they are free to receive the plans that GOD has for you! Get rid of those black and white paper and ink dreams and allow God to dream for you in full and living color! The sky is the limit.

Categories: Acts, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , ,

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